A loan of $800 helped a member to buy more leaves for her leaf plate business and buy a buffalo to start her milk business.

Binapani Group's story

In the year 2010, Gouri of Muniguda village of Rayagaga district in Odisha formed a group with three other women of her locality named Binapani (name of a local Hindu goddess) with the intervention of Mahashakti Foundation. The lady standing at the extreme left raising her hand in the photo is Gouri.
She is 28 years old, living with her husband, her son aged 8, and her daughter aged 6. She belongs to a Below Poverty Line family (BPL), a segment living on less than a dollar a day. Her husband does multiple jobs--from being a tractor driver to a daily wage labor in the paddy fields. His was the only source of income for their family until Gouri decided to step up and share the burden with her husband.

Gouri started her leaf plate business in 2004 on a small scale under these compelling circumstances and has been working hard to grow her business. She makes plates woven out of dry leaves at her house and local traders in the village come and collect them every week. She makes 1000-1500 plates each week. These plates are biodegradable, disposable, hygienic, and an inexpensive alternative to modern paper or plastic utensils. These are widely used by local food stalls and hotels to serve food.

She gets her supply of leaves and bamboo twigs used for stitching from local sellers in the market and sun-dries them for two days to make them ready to be stitched. Presently, the stock she buys from the local sellers is enough for her to make plates for one day and sell the next day. She wants to have enough stock to support her business during the monsoon as well when she cannot get dry leaves. A portion of the loan will be utilized by her to buy more stock of leaves and bamboo twigs.

Gouri also wants to buy a buffalo for milking and sell the milk to local hotels and tea stalls. This is the third loan for Gouri and she promises to repay on time. Gouri dreams of building a small concrete house for her family and giving a proper education to her children. Gouri says, “By successful management of my loans, I have gained more confidence in myself, and I hope that I can do even better to support my family in future.”

The other three members of the group, Sakuntala, Dhire and Kuntala, are also doing the same business as Gouri and are very much excited to expand their business by increasing the volume of their leaf plate making.

In this group: Gouri, Sakuntala, Dhire, Kuntala

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